Scientists from the University of Aarhus, Denmark, have developed a technique that could improve the commercial processes used to remove environmentally harmful sulphur from fossil fuels. This is currently done using a catalyst, which binds the harmful sulphur molecules to it, in much the same way as a cars catalytic converter works.
In a paper published today in the Institute of Physics journal Nanotechnology the Danish team explain how they have studied the chemical reactions which occur when the industrial catalyst combines with sulphur-based molecules in the oil. Until now these reactions have not been properly understood as they occur on an atomic scale. The researchers overcame this problem by making a model of the catalyst and observing these nanoscale reactions using a technique called scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM).
Dr Jeppe Lauritsen, a member of the research team from the University of Aarhus, said: "Throughout the last century most catalysts have been developed by costly time-consuming trial-and-error methods. Nanotechnology is about to change this, since we can now build and view matter directly on the nanoscale."
Joanne Aslett | alfa
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